In the Spotlight this week are the schools attended by British basketball star Luol Deng, and their UK partner schools.
BALTASOUND JUNIOR HIGH, SHETLAND ISLANDS, IS TWINNED WITH LUOL'S PRIMARY SCHOOL, ST MARY'S CATHOLIC HIGH
Speak up! Baltasound produce a film for their partner schools but are hindered by the wind
Caroline Hunter, PE Teacher, Baltasound Junior High
The main differences between our schools are our size and locations. We are a very small school of only 60 pupils from age three to 16 - so linking with any other school is a challenge!
Our community is rural, with a population of 500 people on the island. Linking with schools in larger towns and cities allows our pupils to broaden their opinions of the world. They realise how lucky they are to live in such a safe environment, with a community who cares for them and with facilities to help them reach their goals.
The pupils have created a life-size poster of Luol on the wall of our school stage so pupils can compare their height to his
We have created an international committee named the 'Aakwaaba club' - Aakwaaba being a Ghanaian word for welcome. The committee meet once a fortnight to discuss this project, and then feed back to the rest of the school.
A bit bigger than expected... Baltasound pupils stand in front of a life-size poster of Luol Deng
We have also been using the
pre-designed World Class assemblies
- an excellent way of bringing the whole school together to think about life outside school and their own community.
Having seen how much Luol has achieved in his life and looking at his background, they are beginning to realise that if they put their mind to something, there is every possibility that they will achieve it!
In the future, we plan to ask Luol to carry out some fitness tests - strength, speed, flexibility, cardio-respiratory endurance etc - for us to compare with. We would like to do this as a whole community to get everyone involved, and then to compare our results with the other schools.
We also hope to set up a dedicated section on our schools website for the World Olympic Dreams project as a way to share links to the work we have done.
As long as both schools are enthusiastic and have the chance to be flexible to accommodate one another, this is a wonderful project to be a part of. It gives the pupils a chance to learn about one person through many subjects - excellent cross-curricular practice. It makes a fun and interesting way to learn!
BLAIR ACADEMY, NEW JERSEY, USA, IS TWINNED WITH TOMSLINCOTE SCHOOL AND SIXTH FORM COLLEGE, SURREY
Sue Sutton, Head of Careers, Tomlinscote School
It has been a fabulous project so far.
Part of Tomlinscote's Olympic Dreams display, complete with Olympic motto "Faster, Higher, Stronger"
Our partner school, Blair Academy, have sent us a 'Memories Box', and we also sent one across that they received in September.
The contents of the box are displayed in the Sports Block where we have a dedicated board to Olympic Dreams, and our students have had assemblies and talks about Luol Deng and Blair Academy.
On 23rd November we are holding an 'America' Day and asking all students to come in wearing red, white, and blue! The best dressed student will win a prize.
Our canteen is serving American-themed food all day and we are running a quiz on America, the Olympics and Luol Deng.
We will be having baseball and basketball lessons in P.E. and American themed lessons in other subjects.
The students have also been following Luol's charity work in Sudan through the LDF Foundation and are keen to interact with the Sudanese students involved.
A member of the PE staff and a sixth form student are soon to visit Blair Academy in February for five days - and I know a very busy time awaits them!
The whole school, both staff and students, are keen to keep our partnerships going - up to, during, and after the Olympics.
Stacey Spring, Teacher, Blair Academy
To those thinking of twinning for 2012, I'd say: DO IT! Having a great professional resource for teachers and a social connection for the students are two good reasons alone to do it.
For our twinned schools, it's been surprising to see how much we have in common, yet at the same time to be able to see the benefits of another way of doing things
We held a Skype session with Baltasound back in June, where a group of students talked about their dreams and aspirations and talked about the differences and similarities between the two schools.
Both groups of pupils - in Scotland and in the U.S - seemed to enjoy it, and got along nicely in a conversation that had the potential to be awkward.
We exchanged "cultural boxes" with Tomlinscote, in which each school chose 10 things to send over the Atlantic; these "things" were meant to reflect our schools. Amongst the items we send were our yearbook, a DVD about our graduating class, a CD of music by our orchestra, and wrestling gear.
Items that Blair sent to Tomlinscote - now occupying pride of place on Tomlinscote's Olympic Dreams display
Last April our school hosted a 'British Weekend'. This is actually a yearly event for us, but given the partnership it has new meaning. We are a boarding school, so the activities took place over Saturday night and Sunday afternoon. The highlight was probably tea! We are planning another one later this school year and Tomlinscote is planning an "American Day" too.
There's a lot planned for the future. Luol is going to train at our school in the coming weeks, and our basketball team is headed to England in December. Most excitingly, we can't wait to have our British counterparts (hopefully BOTH Tomlinscote and Baltasound) come visit!
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